Floor Statement on Republican Default Resolution

Jan 18, 2012

Ways and Means Committee Ranking Member Sander Levin (D-MI) today made the following statement on the House floor during debate on the Republican default resolution:

If House Republicans prevailed on this bill what would be the result? Chaos. House Republicans have become the party of chaos. Six months ago House Republicans took us to the brink of default. No one in the country liked what they saw, or maybe a very few. Not the American public. Surely, not the markets. But apparently House Republicans did. And you are at it again.

Here we are, on the first full day the House is in session this year, debating a measure that will take us immediately back to the brink of default. House Republicans are once again relying on the votes of others to save them from themselves and to save this country from them. This is posturing, not legislating. This is rhetoric, not real action.

We have seen this movie before.  174 House Republicans voted for the Budget Control Act that set out the structure to keep the government functioning and address our long-term debt.  But many decided to turn tail. Then on September 14th, 228 House Republicans voted in the favor of the disapproval resolution to end the President’s authority to pay our bills. Basically, they were for it, before they were against it. It is a re-run of a bad movie when the American people clearly want us to move forward. Unfortunately, House Republicans have returned to Washington with the same confrontational tone they left with when they nearly allowed the payroll tax and unemployment insurance to expire. The same confrontation. Enough is more than enough.

House Republicans act as if we don’t already have a deadline looming – one with vast implications for millions of American families. That’s what we should be talking about. In six weeks, the payroll tax cut expires for 160 million Americans. Federal unemployment insurance begins to end for more than three million people searching for work. And access to health care becomes endangered for 46 million seniors and the disabled.

Last month’s jobs numbers were encouraging – the private sector created more than 200,000 jobs in December, and nearly 3 million since the recovery began.  But with 13 million Americans still looking for work, we need to do more.   

We should be doing everything possible to ensure that our recovery doesn’t falter – and you are here supporting something that if it prevailed it would deeply impact our economy. 

We are in the third week of January and now we have a conference committee charged with extending the payroll tax cut and unemployment insurance – but that has yet to happen. Not for lack of wanting on our part. We have been ready and eager to begin. Businesses and families that are trying to plan and budget for the year should not have to wait until the eleventh hour for certainty in these matters.  

Brinksmanship has – for Republicans – become the rule.  

We should reject this cynical and rigidly ideological attempt to take us back to the brink of default. If you prevailed it wouldn’t take us back to the brink, it would throw us over.